Jane Eyre: A Coming of Age Story
Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, is a coming of age story, about a young, orphaned, and submissive girl growing up, through many hardships, into a young, passionate, and free willed woman. Charlotte Bronte begins the story with a ten-year-old Jane Eyre living with an impartial and sometimes cruel aunt, Aunt Reed. Aunt Reed, after neglecting Jane for the whole of her life, finally decides to send her away to boarding school, to Lowood School. Upon her departure, Jane expresses a measure of autonomy and agency, the first of many episodes in which she “gathered her energies and launched them in this blunt sentence – ‘I am not deceitful; if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you” (pg. 30). Here Jane, after living so many years in silence, makes a choice to stand up for herself, by letting Mrs. Reed know her true feelings about how she has been treated thus far; she is in a state of self-governing. Jane Eyre continues to fight for autonomy and agency – through her departure from Lowood to Thornfield, in her growing relationship with Mr. Rochester, and then through her decision to leave behind Thornfield and Mr. Rochester, and finally to go back – as she matures, and evolves from a child into a woman.
The next time Jane exercises autonomy and agency, she is eighteen, and longing to see something of the world other than Lowood. “I went to my window, opened it, and looked out […] all within their boundary of rock and heath seemed prison-ground, exile limits. I traced the white road winding […] how I longed to follow it further” (72). Jane has now spent eight years in this school (prison), presently working as a teacher, and is desperate for a change. She knows that her lack of fortune and social class weaken her options; and so she comes to the conclusion that she should take up a new position elsewhere. As she looks out her window upon the now unsuitable Lowood she cries “then […] grant me at least a...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document